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Penultimate Friday, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State returned from his medical treatment, after spending about 141 days outside the country. Long before he returned, the polity was awash with stories of how he had died several times over from all kinds of diseases. But last Tuesday, he addressed a press conference in Enugu, explaining that he was indeed ill and went for treatment, having been afflicted with cancer of the nose. Except for the specifics he provided at the conference, the public had actually known that he was struck down by an unknown ailment. His absence was prolonged, and that naturally triggered curiousity. Group called Save Enugu Group (SNG) soon sprang up. Propelled more by mischief than altruistic concern, the group had threatened to lead a mass protest to the National Assembly to compel the state government to disclose the whereabouts of Governor Chime.
Yes, the governor had rightly transmitted letter to the Enugu House of Assembly on his envisaged long absence, and power had been properly handed over to his deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi, yet, the givers of the mandate that defines Chime’s status cannot and should not be taken for granted.
The people have the right to know where their governor is/was. But those who were supposed to manage the information of the state were economical and even mischievous with the truth. They kept claiming that the governor was away on his vacation, As if it was a pleasure trip. The silence was as conspiratorial as it was criminal. It only fuelled the carburetor of the rumour engine. Tongues wagged, tension grew, intrigues began… all because basic and harmless information were needlessly hoarded. The silence of the Information managers seemed to deify Chime. But the governor is only human. It is natural and human to fall ill and perhaps recover or even die. To make it look like the governor cannot fall ill, as the information managers presented him, elevated Chime to the pseudo status of a Dues ex machina. He is not, he is verily human. Indeed, the governor had demonstrated his frailty in times past when on two occasions, few years ago, he collapsed at public functions.
On the day he returned, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Chukwudi Achife who spoke to Channels Television insisted that the governor had been on vacation, arguing that he had the constitutional right to spend his vacation wherever and however he wanted. He yet denied that the governor was ever ill. It is amazing that an information manager could so brazenly lie aloud. And on a global dais too.
What harm would be done the image of the governor if the people were told he was ill and undergoing treatment? What injury would the information inflict on the psyche of the people of the state to be told that their governor, like every human, is ill? By giving the impression that the governor was merely on vacation even when the truth is clearly so known, amounts to selling short the collective integrity of the discerning public.
Achife even forgot that earlier in the month, some three governors (Governors Akpabio, Amaechi, Suswam) had gone to London to pay a get-well visit to the recuperating Chime. The photograph from that visit was used in many national newspapers. Yet about two weeks after, the CPS was still denying that the man was ill.
But as if to celebrate the awkward lie, Chime himself came out to admit and declare that he was indeed afflicted by cancer of the nose and that it was the prolonged treatment that kept him away for the length of time he was away. So Mr Achife, what is your defence for the raw lies you told the public? It is not that Achife did not know what the truth is/was. He just wanted to be economical with it. He wanted to mislead the public. Or was he afraid that the Enugu witches and wizards will intensify the affliction of Chime if they knew he was ill? I cannot understand his motive. It is the old order of information management to assume that even basic information must be kept away from the public. Only those who have something to hide that still dwell in such “old school” model. It was the same model used on late President Umaru Yar-adua, where his ailment and health status was hide-and-seek affair. It is unfortunate that the Enugu State information managers are yet stuck to that reprehensible modus operandi.
Sanusi and his Emirship Obsession
The Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has never hidden his interest at becoming the next Emir of Kano. It looks like his topmost and lifetime ambition. He has been working at it by every means. His prompt donation of N100 million to bomb blast victims in Kano last year, is believed to be all part of the emirship project. I don’t have a worry with that, except that he should not be seen using public money to fund and oil selfish machinery.
What does not sit well with me is the avidness of his pursuit of the ambition. Last Monday, he paid a courtesy call on the governor of Gombe State, on his official capacity as the governor of the CBN. But as he is wont to do: leave behind a tinge of controversy, Sanusi had chosen to dress in the full regalia of a gazetted traditional ruler from the north. But for the name, many would have taken the image to be that of one of the many Emirs from the northern part of the country.
The visit was during official business hours. It was thus an official visit. But to choose to dress in such outlandish royal regalia celebrates insensitivity and a high-scale laissez faire attitude.
Yes, there is no quite a strict dress code to office, yet, the convention has been to appear as normal and proper. To decide to dress in such a flowing royal apparel during office hours for official duties, bespeaks of dislocated etiquette. It seems Sanusi can no longer wait to become the Emir of Kano so he can celebrate his new status and royal wardrobe.
It was the same Sanusi that dressed in the same manner to his office last June, when eight members of staff of the CBN were yet lying cold in the mortuary after perishing in the Dana plane crash of June 3, 2012.
Surely, Sanusi does not think so highly of his job, given the ease with which he has always threatened to dump it and move on with his life. Somebody must tell SLS that he is a national icon and must be seen to be upholding the ethos of nationalism and job etiquette. How would the CBN governor feel were he to see one of his staff members appearing in office on a Monday all adorned in, say, Kalabari ceremonial outfit? Or a staff who is an Urhobo chief, fully donned in flowing 8-yard wrapper, bedecked with a regal and feathered hat, fitted with a walking stick etc? Would such a sight not be a distraction to normal office tempo? What is good for the goose should also be good for the ganders. The Kano prince must show good example of official decorum, and keep his obsession for tradition to native and traditional fora.
APC, Buhari and the River Between
I hear that the political interest of most of the leaders of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) may tear the party apart.
That is not true. They have all mutually agreed to put such considerations behind them until all the nitty-gritty of party registration and membership mobilisation have been concluded.
Don’t be naïve. I have always warned you against believing what politicians say. You must learn to decode what they say beyond the face value of their utterances. Look, there is no political party that is in place without the hope of capturing power. And with a party populated with a train load of ambitious persons, you can imagine the keen jostling and intrigues that must be going on.
You don’t get it. Yes, they have ambitions, but they have resolved to keep it low for now, so it does not overshadow the overall interest of forming an all-powerful APC that will scatter, destabilize and ultimately displace the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Do you think it is for nothing that they named the party APC, which many have described as Armoured Personnel Carrier, also called armoured tank?
Look, as I speak, a committee has been set up with the aim of persuading Gen Muhammadu Buhari not to participate in the presidential race of 2015. The committee will also meet with Bola Tinubu to zip his ambition of becoming a Vice President. I can tell you that this will be the widest and deepest river the APC gang will have to cross. If you must be reminded, Buhari formed his Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with the sole aim of making him emerge as the President of the country. It is not for nothing that for three consecutive times, he had contested the presidential seat. He came close to clinching it in April 2011, but he missed it again. So his calculation this time is that if there is a proper synergy with parties from other parts of the country like the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), he could well emerge as the nation’s president, to fulfill a seeming life-time ambition. So to ask him to forget that burning ambition is to cause the engine of the opposition group to lose steam fast.
I can advise you to ignore the rumours you read in some of these newspapers. They are merely speculating and envisaging problems where there is none. Buhari had said he was not desperate to become the flag-bearer of the APC, but that the over-riding interest is to chase away the PDP, now seen as a general enemy in the opposition camp.
But they say that Buhari will be 73 by 2015 and that he would be getting too old to lead a complex and fast-evolving Nigeria. They say Nigeria will need a younger and more viral personage to drive her. Many agree that he is credible and disciplined enough to revamp Nigeria, but they are worried that he may soon be like Pope Benedict XV1, who could soon lose his strength and gait to maximally perform official responsibilities.
All of that is balder dash. Was former President Obasanjo not old enough while in office, yet he had the enormous strength to do all he wanted to do? Buhari is still very strong and he can deliver. He is eager to right the wrongs of the society. The zeal is flaming inside him to perform messianic roles.
Are you saying that unless it is Buhari, the APC will not move forward? After trying three times, is it not necessary for him to give chance to some other persons? Must he be a President anyway?
You seem to undermine the power of conviction and persistence. Do you know that the famous Abraham Lincoln contested 13 times before he won the American presidency?
This is not America. This is Nigeria. I can tell you that the PDP will be too glad to see that there is no agreement among the APC members. That way, the PDP will maintain its hold on the polity.
Stop speaking this your archaic Latin
Look, the country cannot afford another four years of the locust. The PDP government has since become the government of the locust.
Why are you betraying your bias? You do not even seem to realize that it is the maturity of the PDP government that has made Nigeria to enjoy 14 unbroken years of democratic rule. Come on, give PDP some credit.